Do you think there will electric harps and drums in heaven? For centuries one of the classic views of life in heaven sadly revolved around sitting on clouds and playing harps. (If asked I would prefer playing golf…like Jordan Spieth if possible).
This classic idea of harps in heaven can be traced back to Revelation 14 when John witnessed the 144,000. He reported what he saw as follows: “ And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders.” (Revelation 14:2-3 ESV)
John Bunyan captured this idea and portrayed Christian and Hopeful entering the Heavenly City and greeted with harps and crowns in his classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress.
“Practicing heaven on earth” remains as one of my favorite mottos when I speak of the life and mission of our church. Much of the time when I think in these terms, I think about the wonderful diversity of life within our family. Just as in heaven every nation, language, and tongue will gather around the throne. When our church family gathers we increasingly reflect the glory of heaven in the faces of our people. A few weeks ago on International Sunday, we had over eighty (80) people stand acknowledging their births in other homelands like Mexico, China, Kenya, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Columbia, Lebanon, and Arkansas! (I was just kidding about Arkansas—sooie pig).
Let’s be honest, we may not all be playing harps or singing in a heavenly choir, but I cannot imagine heaven without music. Will you dream with me about the glorious sounds and harmonies that will resound in glory? That being said, there have been moments when I have felt caught up to glory but never during a sermon. It has always been through music. I can close my eyes right now and feel the music washing over my heart and soul like a wave of ecstatic joy.
If we seriously intent to “practice heaven on earth” we need to pull out the hymnal, the guitar, the piano and yes, the organ and sing—or at least make a joyful noise.
Over the past ten years, Jim Cleaveland has invited us week in and week out into the throne room of God through worship and music. God has used him to pull back the veil, and to usher in the glory of God among us. As you know, Jim will be retiring August 9 of this year, so our Personnel Committee began a search to find the one uniquely gifted to take on this mantle.
This Sunday morning, Elvin Porflit will be coming in view of a call to be our new minister of worship and media. Many of you may already know and love Elvin, Julie and their children since they have been part of our family for years. Elvin accepted our invitation to be considered after seventeen years as the choral director of Jefferson High School where he has led some of the most outstanding choirs in our region. In addition, Elvin has had the opportunity to lead worship and participate in many of the great congregations of our city like Del Sol and Coronado Baptist Church.
As I stand back I marvel at the process, it has amazed me how God uniquely prepared Elvin to step into this role of leadership having served under Ron Bowles and Jim Cleaveland and grown up among us. He knows and loves our church. He knows and loves our city.
We will be hosting a time of questions and answers with Elvin and Julie on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the Wolf Conference Center, and we will be voting on his call at the end of each of our morning services. I hope you will join us as we “practice heaven on earth” and sing until heaven comes down!